RALEIGH (WTVD) --A record number of tourists visited Wake County in 2015.
VisitRaleigh reports 15.1 million people traveled to the area, an increase of 5.5 percent over 2014, generating more than $219 million in state and local sales tax revenues.
Local businesses like the Raleigh Beer Garden are cashing in on the tourism boom.
"What we're seeing is people have heard about the Beer Garden, and they heard about Raleigh, and they're actually coming off 1-95 and visiting us," said owner Niall Hanley.
The newly released figures come as backlash over HB2 continues.
"We're always kind of holding our breath," said Danny Edwards, VisitRaleigh CEO.
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75 percent of Wake County's visitors travel from North Carolina and surrounding states for leisure.
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While leisure travel has not been affected much by HB2, Edwards said his staff is now focusing on replacing lost business.
"We are still experiencing what we consider pushback, meeting planners that are contacting us. Particularly, it's the travel bans that are the concern now," he said.
Eighteen groups have canceled events in response to HB2, translating into $5.5 million in lost revenue.
A total of 8,518 attendees have dropped plans to visit Wake County.
And $14,485 in hotel room nights were canceled.
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While pushback from events begins to level off in Wake County, business owners such as Hanley are hoping to keep their seats full.
"Businesses like this are working so hard to get ahead and get us on the map and then we have these silly rules that are put in place that put us backwards," Hanley said.
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